Miriam and I in recovery
This is the story of Miriam’s birth.
I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which can make it very difficult to become pregnant, so though we were not planning to conceive we were very happy to be having a baby! I was nervous for labor and delivery, but felt ready to be a Mom. I loved the tiny life inside of me, even before I found out for sure that I was pregnant.
My pregnancy was not difficult. I had very few problems, some bleeding in the beginning which I was given progesterone for, and some uncomfortable swelling at the end, but I otherwise had a very healthy pregnancy. I am convinced that the progesterone saved my daughter’s life – but that is a story for another time.
Thursday night, May 31, 2013, I was watching TV with Bodie. I was 4 days past my due date, and when he asked if we should watch another episode I thought to myself, ‘I should go to bed, I need to save my energy for giving birth’. I was not having contractions, but I must have just known, because I went into labor the following morning.
I wish that I had listened to that instinct and gone to bed, but I stayed up late talking to my sister. She was scheduled to come home from school (a few hours away) that Saturday, so that she would be there when I gave birth. I finally went to sleep around midnight or one in the morning.
I woke up between 5 and 5:15 am to my water breaking. It came in huge gushes, nothing like what I thought it would be. There was a lot of water in there, and I woke up Bodie and one of us got me some towels. We were staying with my parents at the time, and I went into their bedroom to wake them up but found only my Dad. Bodie eventually went downstairs to the guest room to tell my Mom that I was in labor, since I didn’t think I could handle the stair case with my water leaking.
I tried to sleep more, but was unable to fall asleep. I tried to talk to Bodie but he was exhausted, so I let him sleep. While I was laying there, waiting, I was not in pain. Then the contractions started and they really hurt. I got up and went to the bathroom and eventually my Mom came upstairs. By this time it was getting later and I was having strong and painful contractions. I wanted to take a shower and my Mom thought it would be a good idea. She sat with me in the bathroom while I showered just in case and I was really thankful that she was there.
In the shower my Mom reminded me to take yoga-breaths, told me that I knew how, and that they would help. This advice probably saved my life, and helped me deal with the contractions that would continue painfully for the next 24 hours.
Eventually I got out and Bodie got up and went to the drug store to get some maxi pads for me since my water was so leaky. My Mom was busy trying to call my sister, who was asleep at her boarding school. Eventually she got ahold of someone in the dorm who woke Laura up and she began to make her 3 hour journey home. I stayed in the bathroom and lost my mucus plug, then called the doctors office when it opened.
When I spoke to my doctor around 8 am she told me that it was time to go to the hospital. I was nervous about this, but relieved too, because I was curious how dilated I was and hoped from there that my labor would progress quickly. Bodie drove me to the hospital and my parents came separately. Surprisingly enough, the car ride was fine. It took about 15 minutes, and the forward moving motion helped ease the pain of my contractions.
We got there and I started slowly making my way to the front door, pausing in the parking lot to lean against a wall for a particularly painful one. A woman who saw me gave me a knowing smile, and I think someone asked me if I was alright or if I needed a wheelchair. I was okay, and I made my way to the volunteers desk who told me that I could go upstairs to Labor and Delivery. We took the elevator up, and it was beautiful, I just loved that hospital. Nature scenes everywhere, and I was practically delirious staring at the abstract art and seeing faces and positive signs from God in the pattern.
Once upstairs, we were escorted to a room and I was checked by one of the obstetrician’s in the group I was seeing. She was very friendly, I signed some paperwork. I pointed to the word “episiotomy” on a form, and my doctor reassured me that she didn’t believe in those. She said that I was already 5 centimeters dilated and that I would be having my baby that afternoon!
She gave the OK for me to walk around freely with only intermittent monitoring, and eat as much as I was able to. I had a few bites of toast but couldn’t eat much, I was in a lot of pain. In each contraction I could feel my uterus squeezing my baby’s tiny bones, and they were sharp and hard.
My nurse was Catholic, I remember this because I thought God had sent her to me. She had curly hair, and smiled a lot. She had daughters too, and I was thankful that we got along so well.
I remember a woman with a form distracting me from my breathing, I probably spoke sharply to her but could not respond when I was in the middle of a contraction and she was pushy. The nurse encouraged me to change from my pajamas into a hospital gown and after checking me on the monitors I started doing laps around the hallway.
Sometime while I was walking, my sister arrived. I was so thankful to see her but also afraid that she would distract me from my breathing, which was the only thing holding me together. She brought presents for the baby, flowers too, and walked with me talking to me and keeping me company. It was wonderful, it was the best thing anyone could do for me.
After a long time walking, my nurse asked if I wanted to be checked again and then go in the whirlpool tub. That sounded like a good idea and I feared that my labor had stalled, because I felt like I wasn’t progressing. I was right, I was still at 5 cm. I decided to get in the tub and reassess after.
The tub was awful, it was steamy and hot and I was in a lot of pain and naked in front of everyone it seemed. The nurse asked if I wanted some lavender aromatherapy, and I think that it made me even more drowsy. I wanted to sleep badly but was in too much pain, and in hindsight I realize that the tub, the aromatherapy was a big mistake. Many midwives do not allow women whose water has already broken to be in the tub before they are pushing, because the infection rates are higher.
At this point I was ready to talk about epidurals. I felt like a failure and had wanted my natural birth so badly, but after 12 hours of active labor I was so exhausted and in so much pain that everyone was worried that I wouldn’t be able to push. I decided to get checked one more time, and then decide.
I was still 5 cm, and I asked to speak to the anesthesiologist to discuss the risks. When he came upstairs, he spoke sharply and said only “well what do you want to know?” and treated me as if I was wasting his time. It felt as if he only wanted to hear yes or no from me, and gave me little information about the procedure. I decided to have the epidural, I was exhausted and afraid that I would not be able to push and end up needing to be cut open.
They must have let a nurse-in-training put in my hep lock, I had written “no students” on my birth plan but I left that at home. She stuck me several times and my arm was bleeding all over the place. They started me on an IV too, and I am terrified of needles. At this point though, the needles were welcome in the hopes that they would ease my pain.
Getting the epidural put in was very painful. The anesthesiologist was very rude and frightening, he barked at me not to move at all. If I moved, I could be paralyzed or have permanent damage. I stayed as still as possible though the contractions hurt like hell. I gripped the nurses hands and bent over the table, and the needles felt huge going into the area around my spine.
The epidural only worked on half of my body. I could feel everything on the other half, and everyone was horrified. It happens they said, but they were so sorry it happened to me. We discussed it and I decided to let the anesthesiologist try again, to administer a second epidural even though I knew he had botched the first. This was at a first rate hospital in a very affluent area, and I trusted that the hospital staff was highly trained and skilled. The anesthesiologist was rude, told me that it might just be my body, that a second epidural might not help. The rest of the staff and my mother, who is a doctor, were fed up with him too by that point, and told him to just try again, one more time. He did, rudely and begrudgingly, and the way he administered the second epidural was just as painful as the first.
We were all glad to see him leave, and finally, FINALLY I had some relief from the pain. People muttered that he had done it wrong in the first place, and I was angry but couldn’t focus on that because though the pain was less, I still felt every contraction and since I had the epidural I had to stay in one position, unable to move into ones that made the pain lessen.
Hours passed, I’m sure my family got very tired of me. My Dad and sister went home to sleep for a few hours. The doctor checked me again and I had only changed by about half a centimeter in several hours. Too slow, but they were willing to hold off on further interventions for awhile because I still wanted as natural a birth as possible. They had to use a catheter for my bladder since I wasn’t allowed to move from the bed.
More time passed, they took my vital signs. I had a small fever. The doctor was trying to let me be in control of my birth as much as possible but she highly recommended that I start pitocin since the chance of infection was so high, and I was developing a fever. I asked them to take my temperature one more time just to be sure, and even though only a few minutes had passed it was much higher. I agreed to the pitocin, and some antibiotics since a quickly rising fever seemed to me to be very dangerous both for me and my baby.
The pitocin helped, and things started to speed up, but not by much. Bodie and my mom ordered a pizza, I now was starving and wanted some but wasn’t allowed to eat. They each dozed on and off and I was lonely. I felt like I had failed at trusting God to do things His way, naturally, and I was disappointed and afraid. It still wasn’t real to me that my baby was going to be born, I don’t think it felt real to me until she was finally here.
After awhile my body started to push on its own. I wanted to push, I was excited about this part and I let my body do what it wanted to do. It hurt badly, I could feel everything below my waist and asked about that but the doctor and nurses said that I should be able to feel everything, that it would help me push. I stopped pushing for the drugs on the epidural, I don’t remember if they turned it off or not but I definitely felt a lot of pain from the pushing.
I didn’t know if I wanted to call my sister back to the hospital or not, originally I had wanted her there for the birth but I was afraid she would distract me. My doctor told me that her sister had not called her, and that she still hadn’t forgiven her. She encouraged me to call my sister and I did.
When my sister got there I was starting to get distracted. She kept moving around and my doctor told her to stop, it was distracting. Laura often faints at the sight of blood and she felt queasy, so my doctor yelled at her saying “Today is not about you, this is about your sister. SIT DOWN.” I was surprised but also sort of grateful, and Laura was wonderful the rest of the birth. I was truly thankful that I had called her and so, so, glad that she was there.
My doctor was like a football coach, yelling when to push, to do it harder. Some of my pushing was ineffective but eventually I got the hang of it. Bodie helped hold my legs up, so did the doctor and I pushed and pushed. It hurt and I remember lying about whether I was having a contraction once or twice so that I could rest.
They wanted me to get her out as fast as possible, I had been in labor almost 24 hours and even though I was having the antibiotics they feared the baby would catch an infection or that I wouldn’t have the energy to sustain pushing and that I would need a c-section.
She made me push faster than I would have liked, but I did it because she said to. I think if I had gone slower, I might not have torn at all. As it is, I only tore a little. Bodie said that he could see her head, it looked like “a hairy potato”. He said she was almost here and the doctor yelled at him, saying she was the only one who was allowed to say that. Finally I pushed her head out and the doctor yelled STOP. I wanted to push again, but I stopped, and she soon said OK again. As soon as she did I gave one last huge hard push and my baby’s shoulders and body flew out of me.
Miriam cried immediately, which I was thankful for. I was so glad that the pain was over. I kept having contractions and they kept hurting, I asked when it would stop, I was in agony still. When Miriam was born a huge gush of blood followed, my Mom almost passed out. Everyone said “whoa!” and my doctor called for more pitocin to stop me from hemorrhaging. I birthed the placenta, I’m not sure if they had Bodie cut the cord before or after but I had asked them to wait until it stopped pulsing and they did wait a good while.
More nurses had come in when she was about to be born, NICU nurses, perhaps because of my fever. Bodie held her, they weighed her and she had her first meconium poop. I asked for her to nurse her right away. They let me hold her but didn’t let me put her straight to my breast. They said “she doesn’t know how yet” and made me wait until after they took her stats. I wanted to fight, but I was in too much pain and still contracting. I just wanted it to be over.
Eventually, probably within half an hour, they did let me nurse her and she nursed for almost two hours. She was brilliant at it, I stayed there with her enjoying my new baby and practicing our latch. They called my Dad in from the waiting area and he got to hold her. At some point Bodie found out that his parents were flying in and would get to meet her later that day.
She was born June 1, 2013 at 5:15 AM. She was 8 lbs 9 oz and 21 inches and wonderfully healthy. On the last day in the hospital we named her Miriam Rose, and I love her so much.